Deciding to sue your employer is never easy, but it is sometimes necessary. If you’ve experienced harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination or a workplace injury, your only recourse may be legal action or suing your employer.
But filing a lawsuit against your employer can be complicated. Before you begin filing anything, consider the commitment and expectations that come with suing someone.
Let’s look at a few of the details you should consider before you file a lawsuit against your employer.
When is it Appropriate to Sue Your Employer?
Lawsuits should be saved for the most egregious acts — you can’t rightfully sue your employer every time you’re unhappy. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some circumstances when a lawsuit is appropriate. Here are a few situations where you may want to consider taking legal action against your employer.
You faced discrimination.
Under the Civil Rights Act and the American Disabilities Act, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee or applicant based on race, gender, sex, ethnicity, religion or disability. If an employer discriminates against you, this could be a situation where suing your employer is warranted.
You suffered harassment.
The most frequently talked about form of harassment in a workplace is sexual harassment, although there are other kinds. Harassment does not need to come from the employer for you to sue. If you’re being harassed by a coworker, client or supervisor, and your employer doesn’t address the issue, a lawsuit may change those workplace dynamics.
You were wrongfully terminated.
Wrongful termination happens when an employer lets an employee go for a reason unrelated to their performance or the state of the company. Wrongful termination may happen if the manager is looking to retaliate against the employer or as an act of discrimination. While wrongful termination can be difficult to prove, suing your employer is an option.
You sustained a workplace injury.
While we often think of workplace injuries only happening in dangerous jobs, they can happen anywhere. In most cases, workers’ compensation covers workplace injuries.
However, there are situations where an employee could sue an employer over a workplace injury not covered under workers’ compensation. Those situations include third party negligence, toxic substance, defective products or intentional accidents caused by the employer.
Employees might sue if they’re injured on the job and the employer does not have a workers’ compensation plan or the plan inadequately covers the financial burden.
Starting a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
If you believe you have a case against your employer, there are a few crucial steps you should take to ensure the process goes smoothly.
If you’ve been discriminated against, harassed, wrongfully terminated or injured on the job, reach out to an attorney to see if you have a case. Qualified attorneys will help you determine the strength of your case before you tell anyone you’re suing your employer.
Talking with an attorney first, especially through a free consultation, allows you to understand whether a lawsuit would be justified. If a lawyer lets you know early on that you don’t have a case, you don’t need to waste time and energy collecting evidence or trying to negotiate with your employer.
Next, talk with your employer to see if you’re able to resolve the situation without legal help. In many cases, your employer will want to resolve the problem without public attention or high legal fees. Schedule a meeting with your boss or supervisor to discuss your issue and see if they’re willing to come to an agreement.
While you’re speaking with attorneys or your employer, begin documenting evidence related to your situation. A solid foundation of evidence can be helpful if you should ever need to go to court. Take pictures, save emails or messages and make notes related to any day-to-day encounters with potentially illegal behavior.
Begin talking with other employees who may have experienced similar behaviors or have witnessed it happening to you. Ask them if they would be willing to speak with your attorney about their own experiences.
Finally, decide whether you’d like to pursue legal action. If you follow through with the case, your attorney can help you gather the additional information needed and file the appropriate paperwork.
Find Outside Help
Don’t suffer in a job where you are mistreated. When you’ve done all you can do to protect yourself against improper workplace situations, the law can offer job protection and fair compensation for your suffering.
An employer can’t legally fire you for seeking help against unethical or illegal practices. While there are many different laws protecting employees, it’s important you understand your rights and what to do if they are jeopardized. If you feel like you’ve encountered illegal or unethical behavior at work, know the law offers recourse for you.